on September 5, 2009
I found this movie very inspiring and as a Catholic teacher it will fit in beautifully with my units in social justice, photoshoppe art lessons and media literacy. You do, however, have to warn the students about the abusive language used by some of the prostitutes and it can be quite unnerving.
This video is a bit uplifting and significantly depressing. It was shot in one of the slums in Calcutta, India where many women have no career path other than joining the line. This is a euphamism for prostitution, standing outside the door waiting for a customer. The main characters are a group of eight children of the prostitutes, it is about their lives as well as the excitement and joy they receive from learning photography.
Zana Briski is a New York-based photographer and she is living in the brothels to create a documentary of life there. In order to get their cooperation she befriends the women and their children, giving the young ones something to be excited about. The girls have a life of menial labor, cleaning and cooking during a long day. All of the children are aware of the work their mothers do, some of them talk about having to leave their residence when their mother brings a customer in.
The video is uplifting when you see how bright and engaged the children are and how successful they are when their photos are displayed in an American gallery. The children are enrolled in a boarding school where they will be educated in a safe environment, but it is depressing when you are informed at the end that most of the children did not stay in school for long. It is clear that the girls that left the school have no path available other than to join the line.
Seeing the crowding, decay and filth that the people live in is a powerful awakening of your sensibilities regarding how so many of the people in the world live. There is one image of a toddler naked from the waist down chained to a railing, this may seem cruel, but when you see the environment, it is clear that this is the least bad option available.
It is easy to see why this video won so many awards. One point that should be noted is that it is a demonstration of the phrase “Room at the bottom” that appeared in a business book I once reviewed. The point of the book was that poor people around the world only need the opportunity and they will improve their station. If that were to be done, there would be an economic boom. Given the opportunity, these poor children demonstrated what they were capable of doing.
on January 30, 2006
This movie is a must see. But don't miss the extras. One is the commentary by the two who made this happen. The other one is even more touching, watching the children watch this movie for the first time, three years after it was released. It's hard not to feel the joys and sorrows about the project.